Aroostook County The wheels are in motion in Mars Hill, as KIDZ KLUB members practice for their kick-off event on Saturday, May 30, beginning at the Mars Hill Fire Department where participants can walk or bike to raise funds for County Dialysis Center in Presque Isle.

Mars Hill Kidz Klub
Mars Hill Kidz Klub

Organizer Stephanie McKeen explains the Mars Hill KIDS KLUB is a new and exciting spin off from the AFTER THE BELL program.  The club is designed to encourage youth to get out and become more active and strive to be healthy.

McKeen says, “Our objective is to build a stronger, healthier community one kid at a time.  Our kick-off event is Power to the Pedal, the Mars Hill way.”

The Power to the Pedal fundraising event takes place on May 29 with the main site for the event at the County Physical Therapy facility on North Street in Presque Isle.  There participants will ride on stationary bikes in shifts over a 12-hour time period.   Mars Hill KIDZ will spin off from this event the following day.

Power to the Pedal organizers have set a goal of raising $30,000 to purchase two hemodialysis machines that provide life-sustaining treatment for patients at County Dialysis. The machines will complement the construction of an updated facility for the center, which will be located inside the unoccupied section of the former Smythe’s IGA, adjacent to its current location at North Street Healthcare in Presque Isle.

After hearing about Fort Kent’s Valley Rivers Middle School Bike-a-thon event and Presque Isle Middle School physical education students powering the pedals at CPT and hosting their own Bike-a-thon, Mars Hill KIDZ KLUB decided to rally riders and walkers to join their own fundraiser on Saturday, May 30, a treck from the Mars Hill Fire Station to Robinson and back to raise funds for County Dialysis and have fun.

Mars Hill KIDZ KLUB is designed to encourage youth to get out and become more active and strive to be healthy.  With the recent closure of the AFTER THE BELL program, four community members decided to build on the already successful fitness program and add more.  Some of the events that remain are running club and tri-club; and they are excited about adding week-long camps to include soccer, basketball and an adventure camp.  The objective is to teach proper technique and encourage youth to rise to their full potential.

“We are excited to introduce an Adventure component and combine all the activities the area has to offer, including canoeing, hiking, swimming, and basic survival skills.  Joining Power to the Pedal, the Mars Hill way, is just the beginning of involving community members.  We want to teach our students about healthy lifestyle alternatives so our community’s future is in good, strong, capable hands.

Pamela Frank, RN, manager of County Dialysis, says she is blown away by the outpouring of support from different areas of Aroostook County.

“First Fort Kent, then Presque Isle, and now Mars Hill” she said. “It just goes to show how many lives County Dialysis touches across our broad region, and what an important service County Dialysis provides in our rural communities. I’m touched beyond words at the willingness of people to give their time to help us raise these very necessary funds.”

Because County Dialysis is the only treatment center of its kind north of the Bangor region, it helps to keep Aroostook County patients from having to make lengthy trips to receive their dialysis treatments up to three times per week. Without it, many families would endure financial hardships to receive their treatment or, worse, would avoid them altogether.

Anyone interested in supporting either of these events can pledge money to Power to the Pedal by logging onto, or pledging per mile for the Bike-a-thon through Mars Hill KIDZ KLUB, by calling Stephanie McKeen directly at (207) 227-4453 for more information.

The County Dialysis Center treats approximately 45 patients, three times each week.  In 2014, patients received 5,789 treatments at the center, which has been in constant operation for nearly two decades.

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